Sunday, September 11, 2005

Katrina PeopleFinder Project Update

Volunteers surf and scrub the web to help reconnect family and friends
separated by Hurricane Katrina

Contact: Sue Cline: Volunteer : : Communications &
Media Phone: (804) 230-3456

Contact: Marty Kearns: Volunteer : : Communications &
Media (C ) 202-487-1887

Contact: Zack Rosen: Volunteer : : Technical and
Engineering Lead (C) (724)612-7641

WASHINGTON,Friday, September 09, 2005 — The largest collection of data
on the web about evacuees and survivors has been pulled together by
volunteers and programmers working long hours for the last week. The is a collection of survivor information
from across dozens of sites.The project was launched to provide
information on survivors to family and friends across the web. The site forms a needed complement to a pending
launch of newer efforts to organize data by the Red Cross, FEMA and
the Department of Homeland Security.

The "official sites" will be focusing on new more structured data
collected from people in shelters and from those interacting with
government programs and relief organizations.
http://www.Katrinalist.netis the complement to whatever official
collection all the informal datafrom bulletin boards, discussion forms
and sites across the web. will provide data to

Those seeking information on family should first search and then These sites
represent the best collection of data and the best hope for helping
family and friends locate each other.

Evacuees wishing to inform loved ones of their location can register
or post information about survivors at

Report a Missing Person at

These are all voluntary and self-reporting tools. All media outlets
and those hosting discussion boards, search tools and other
information on survivors or offering connections to families are asked
to redirect search traffic and data input to these sites.

Additional Background:
The project was launched as the core team started to realize that too
many sites were collecting data and stories on families looking for or
posting the status of their friends and neighbors. In the moments
leading up to the storm dozens of sites launched services to help
their members, including: New Orleans Newspapers (, TV and
radio sites, Craigslist, CNN, MSNBC, Yahoo, Blogs and the Red Cross.
In the hours following the storm companies, college students and
volunteers began to set up databases for people to add and search

On Friday the 9th, The American Red Cross, with support of the
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement launched a web site
and hotline to help assist family members who are seeking news about
loved ones living in the path of Hurricane Katrina.

Dozens of message boards have sprung up around the country since
Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, promising to throw a
technological lifeline to families that have been ripped apart. At the
same time, the proliferation of registries has also made it
increasingly difficult to figure out where to find information on
missing loved ones.

"If I'm a refugee trying to find my brother, I would have to search 20
databases and 25 online forums," said David Geilhufe, chief executive
of the Social Source Foundation, a charity set up to create
softwarefor other non-profits. "It's a huge problem."

Enter The all volunteer team created a searchable
directory of persons displaced or affected by Hurricane Katrina,
consolidating over 25 different online resources into one central,
searchable repository. PeopleFinder Interchange Format, (called
'PFIF') is a new, standardized data format implemented in XML.

Katrina People Finder ( in the organization
of data about people affected by major storms such as Hurricane
Katrina and speeds searches by allowing many organizations to
contribute to a central repository. The interchangeformat of Katrina
People Finder makes automated search and retrieval of data about
people quick and easy. Common data will help automated systems to
connect displaced individuals via automatic categorization and

The PeopleFinder database now contains just barebones
information -- such as name, phone number, last known address and
status. But Dean Robison of,a San Francisco software
firm that is providing the technology to run the consolidated
database, said it could easily be expanded in thefuture to speed
rescue and relief operations in further disasters.

The Power of Community

The Katrina PeopleFinder Project mobilized hundreds of volunteers over
the Labor Day weekend to make an immediate difference. That immediate
difference is at,a searchable database of
almost 400,000 PeopleFinder Interchange Format-compliant,
volunteer-entered, missing and found persons reports from across the
web. Having a single, searchable resource is critical due to limited
internet access for evacuees and their families. The team plans to
turn its attention to housing and job solutions next, creating a
centralized technology solution that aggregates acomprehensive
resource set from sites all across the web, standardizes them, and
makes them searchable from anywhere.

Project Contributors
CivicSpace Labs ( is a funded non-profit
organization and community collaborating with the Drupal
( to develop a free/open-source software
platform for onlinecommunity organizing. CivicSpace enables bottom-up
people-powered campaigns to operate on a more level playing field with
more traditional top-down organizations, and, similarly, allows
top-down organizations to leverage the power of grassroots organizing. Foundation
( officially
launched in July 2000 by Secretary of State, Colin L.Powell. The
launch of the Foundation came less than a year after the launch of the
company with the goal of building philanthropic programs at the very
beginning of the company's existence rather than waiting until the
company had reached a certain level of 'comfortable success'.Our
belief is if emphasis is placed on social programs from a company's
inception, the value of service will be a core cultural value that is
built into the fabric of the company.

Social Source Software (
world-class software specifically for nonprofit and non-governmental
organizations, usually under an open source license. Social Source
Software works with organizations seeking to create enterprise grade
websites, web applications, and other types of software.

Craigslist ( From its humble beginnings as
an e-mail newsletter sent to friends in San Francisco, Craigslist has
grown to be one of the largest online community bulletin boards, with
175 Craigslist sites in all 50 US states, and 34 countries. Craigslist
was one of the earliest community sites to coordinate hurricane
relief, rescue and reunion for Katrina survivors.